By Peter Singer

In A Darwinian Left, Peter Singer argues that the political left has misunderstood Darwinian rules and for that reason been adverse to the appliance of Darwinian considering to politics. these at the political left who search a extra egalitarian society should still in its place embody evolutionary rules and easy methods to use evolutionary pondering as a way to construct the type of cooperative society sought.

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Additional info for A Darwinian Left: Politics, Evolution, and Cooperation

Sample text

Nesturkh 27 wrote of the study of human origins that it is the 'sacred duty1 of Soviet anthropology 'to consider hominids as people actively forming themselves rather than as animals stubbornly resisting their transformation into human beings'. It is intriguing how two very different ideologies - Christianity and Marxism - agreed with each other in insisting on the gulf between humans and animals, and therefore that evolutionary theory cannot be applied to human beings. Lysenko, incidentally, went even further in revising Darwinian thinking than those Marxists who denied its application to human affairs.

There are different ways of working with the tendencies inherent in human nature. The market economy is based on the idea that human beings can be relied upon to work hard and show initiative only if by doing so they will further their own economic interests. As Adam Smith put it, 'It is not from the benevolence of the butcher that we expect our dinner, but from his regard to his own self-interest/ To serve our own interests we will strive to produce better goods than our competitors, or to produce similar goods more cheaply.

Other forms of behaviour could easily have been chosen, and each one could be the subject of an extended debate. Moreover, we should bear in mind that, even where behaviour varies greatly across cultures, this may be the result of fixed psychological rules leading to different outcomes when applied in varied circumstances. Nevertheless, such speculations do have a point: they display the possibilities that anyone interested in Darwinian politics needs to take into account. In the first category, that of great variation, I would put the way we produce our food - by gathering and hunting, by grazing domesticated animals, or by growing crops.

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